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Apart from the annoying after-itch, a mosquito bite can spread dangerous diseases like Dengue and Zika. For such a reputation, it can be surprising to know that only female mosquitoes bite. This is because they need certain proteins in blood to produce eggs...so that the next generation of mozzies can haunt you. In this article, we discuss the 3 key senses that female mosquitoes use to choose their victims, and find out whether you are a mosquito repellent or attractant!
1. Mosquitoes use their sense of smell
Firstly, mosquitoes are highly attracted by various human scents. Our bodies are constantly producing various chemicals that let mozzies know their next victim is within striking distance.
For example, each time we exhale, the carbon dioxide in our breath makes it easy for mosquitoes to recognise their next meal. However, it is not just carbon dioxide that makes us a mozzie magnet – especially since there are many sources of carbon dioxide in nature, such as plants. In fact, it is combined with other scents that our bodies produce constantly, such as lactic acid – which are released during intense body exercise – and ammonia – which are ingredients to most common household necessities such as window cleaners, floor wax, and smelling salts.
This cocktail of human scents is what makes some of us extremely attractive to mosquitoes, while others seem to have an invisible shield against these pesky insects. Simply put, if a mosquito is attracted to your unique scent signature, then the blood-thirsty creature is likely to prey on you next.
While there is no way to alter what our bodies naturally produce or slow down the production of bodily chemicals, there are still ways to minimise bites. For example, regular showers and wipe-downs will reduce lactic acid build-up and bacterial odours on the skin, making you a less attractive target. Alternatively, mosquito patches and sprays also repel mosquitoes and keep you safe from bites.
2. Mosquitoes use their sense of sight
After sensing attractive odours, a mosquito typically flies towards the source and tries to find its target visually.
In particular, mosquitoes tend to bite you if you wear dark clothing. This is because dark colours create a high contrast between you and the horizon, allowing mosquitoes to easily spot you.
Notably, mosquitoes have 2 compound eyes – “compound” because each eye has hundreds of lenses, each with its own cornea and photoreceptor. This makes mosquitoes excellent visual hunters when hovering near a host.
So if you’re going for a picnic in the day, avoid dressing in colours like black and navy!
3. Mosquitoes use their thermal sensory
If you’ve ever experienced a surge in mosquito bites after a jog, there is a good reason for that. Mosquitoes are adept at thermal sensory and are attracted to sources with higher heat.
Specifically, they are attracted to the range of body temperatures – any hotter, and they tend to avoid it. Thus, after a workout, blood naturally flows throughout the body and produce higher heat. Mosquitoes then use the heat produced to find an area of your body where blood is closest to the skin surface. This is the ‘X’ mark where mosquitoes strike!
If you want to avoid mosquitoes, be sure to keep yourself cool! If that’s not possible, try to take a shower – or a quick wipe-down – that will bring down your body temperature. This will reduce your attractiveness to nearby mosquitoes. Keep your indoor environment cool with air-conditioning or ceiling fan. There are also various ways to prevent indoor and outdoor mosquitos from coming near you such as getting rid of stagnant water, cleaning up the gutter and drains, minimize having plants and ornamental containers.
Mosquitoes are constantly being studied by scientists because of the danger they pose to humans. In fact, mosquitoes are infinitely more dangerous than other household pests like cockroaches and lizards – although we tend to fear the latter two more!
Using these 3 senses, female mosquitoes choose their next victims, sometimes spreading serious diseases as well. If you wish to lower your attractiveness get in touch with our mozzie professionals now!
You can decide if you are a mosquito repellent or attractant today. Seek professional mosquito control with Rentokil Singapore.